The Holly Bough is 125 years old!
“The Holly Bough will play a part in the merry-making of the season... and make the time pass quickly, pleasantly, and well.”
With that bold promise way back in 1897, the first ever edition of this venerable Christmas institution hit the streets. It’s fair to say it has become an intrinsic part of the Cork festive season ever since.Now the 2022 edition is out, with a beautiful cover by Cork artist and illustrator Sheena Dempsey.
I hope this 125th anniversary edition lives up to that first mission statement, and makes your time pass pleasantly and well.
We have produced yet another rattling good read - a veritable feast of great stories, remarkable photos, puzzles, and so much more. Read about the Rebel ancestry of Cork actor Cillian Murphy; a baker tells us the secret recipe for Donkey’s Gudge; and we recall the days when writer Brendan Behan and singer Jim Reeves visited Cork - with decidedly mixed results for both!
Of course, we will be celebrating the Holly Bough’s 125th anniversary, with a look back at that first edition, and taking a deep dive into the story of its 125 years with an 8-page anniversary special.
All that, plus wonderful festive recipes, a segment for the kids, a bumper sports section - and of course the Diffney Quiz! Truly, we have something for everyone.
Christmas is a unique time, when we ponder the past, live in the present, and often cast an eye to the future too. Or, as the Holly Bough put it 125 years ago: “The past is over, and let it rest. The future is approaching, and let it come. For the present let us speak only of peace and rest.”
I wish you all peace and rest, and of course, pleasant reading for Christmas, 2022.
Editor of Holly Bough
There were hundreds of entries from Holly Bough readers for this year's Diffney Quiz and crossword competitions
Now you can access past editions of Holly Bough online
A treasure trove of Cork history lies within the pages of every Holly Bough - and now you can access past editions of Cork’s favourite Christmas publication at the touch of a button.
This year, the publication was digitised and is available to view online on the Irish Newspaper Archives (INA) website - www.irishnewspaperarchives.com Ireland’s largest digital newspaper archive, the website stores hundreds of thousands of pages of past newspapers, including the Echo and Examiner, and provides easy access to more than 300 years of history.
Holly Boughs dating back to 1924 up to the present day can now be viewed online.
Jonathan Martin, of the INA, said: “We are delighted to have the Holly Bough Christmas magazine on board our website. The Holly Bough has been a wonderful Christmas tradition in Cork city and county since 1897.
“The INA believes this title offers a great snap-shot of times gone past, illustrated beautifully in the photos and articles that capture Ireland at its traditionally happiest time of year.
“We hope that you enjoy reading the archive as much as we did digitising them.
“If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com”
Every year, we publish photos of Holly Bough readers posing with the publication all around the world. Here are some of our editor’s favourites from 2022. Email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the steps below where it says Submit a photo or story’.
ANTRIM: Gerry Diffney, of Dublin, who sets the famous Diffney Quiz in the Holly Bough every year, with grandsons Leo and Rowan on hisarrival home after he walked round Ireland this year
BRITISH COLUMBIA: From left, Jen, Ríona, Joan, Conor, and Brian Fitzgerald in the mountains near Tofino. Brian was born in Ballintemple, Cork
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Frances Scannell, from Bishopstown, at Al Seef, Dubai, where she was visiting her daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Mike Bingham
SYDNEY: Michael Dorgan, of Shanakiel, with wife Helen and children Tom and three-week-old Hollie Dorgan on Coogee Beach last Christmas Day
ECUADOR: Jimmy Stuart, originally of Monkstown, and Kathy Stuart, originally of Switzerland, on Cotapaxi, the second highest summit in Ecuador, at 19,347ft
LONDON: Eva and Finbar Kingston in Crystal Palace. Their grandparents, Lenita and John Kingston, are from Macroom
ARIZONA: Eileen Bowron, nee Barry, front left, and her sister Irene Browne in Tucson, where Eileen lives. They are originally from Passage West
NEW YORK: Shirley and Martin Meehan, from Farranree, at the Rockefeller Centre
NEW ZEALAND: Stanley and May Foley in Taupo last Christmas. Their father, Donall, is originally from Belgooly
FINLAND: Michael, Oiva, Hanna and Suvi Marshall, of Mayfield, visiting family in Lieksa in eastern Finland last Christmas
LAPLAND: The Horgan family from Lisgoold enjoying the holiday of a lifetime in Lapland last Christmas, Conor, Marie and Mark, back, and Clodagh and Eoin, front
ITALY: Gillian Collins, of Farran, and David McDonagh, of Moycullen, Galway, at the Valley of the Temples, Sicily
The last working silo at Cork’s docklands is set to close, severing a link to the city’s industrial past as the landscape in that area continues to shift. We tell the story in the 2022 Holly Bough, and in this video, NOEL SWEENEY talks to the last two men standing.
Billy Healy (left) and Melven MacIlwraith have worked on the docklands silos since the 1980s and are retiring when the last one closes. Billy said: “When I started, the lads there told me I was mad, that the place would only last a couple of years”
DAWN OF A NEW ERA: A view into Cork city from the last working silo at Cork docklands. Picture: Noel Sweeney
If you have a story to submit to the Holly Bough, or a photo for the Holly Bough Picture Gallery, you can do it here
Printing the Holly Bough at the Cork Examiner in December 1949 ©The Echo Archive.
"Written by Cork people, for Cork people"
The Holly Bough has been an annual tradition in Cork since 1897.
In that time, it has become a staple of the Christmas season in city and county, and among the diaspora around the world.
It has appeared in all 125 years since it began, apart from a few years during the world wars, and in 1948, when there was a paper shortage. The oldest copy in Cork City Library is from 1924.
The Holly Bough contains a plethora of historical stories and photographs about Cork and its people, as well as festive articles, a food & drink section, a junior section including puzzles, fictional short stories and poems by local people, and a sports section.
The magazine is now larger than it has ever been in its history – 164 pages.
Editors down the years have included Stephen Coughlan and Walter McGrath, and the current editor, John Dolan, has been at the helm since 2002.
He attributes its continued success to hard work by generations of people, from writers to in-house journalists, editors and photographers, from printers to distributors, advertisers to contributors. The latter are the backbone of the Holly Bough. “The Holly Bough is written by Cork people, for Cork people” he says.
Christmas decorations on Grand Parade. In centre is Berwick Fountain, which was designed by Sir John Benson and paid for by Judge Berwick 15/12/1930 ©The Echo Archive.
Thousand readers wordwide
Years the Holly Bough is a Cork tradition
Pages bursting with photos and stories
Christmas publication in Cork